Finally, we provide a brief spotlight on those artists influenced by anime and its music. One of the guest bands at Animé LA entertained attendees in the entertainment lounge was Japanese Lunchtime Rush. This southern California based group performs anisongs in their style of jazz, pop, and rock. Crowds in the music hall were treated to Eternity from Final Fantasy X-2, the Pokemon title theme, Dearly Beloved from Kingdom Hearts, Fukai Mori from Inuyasha, and Smile Bomb from Yu Yu Hakusho. After the performance, we sat down for a chat about music and anime. Here is our interview with Andy the guitarist, Donny the drummer, Gabey the bassist, Hugo the keyboardist, Jay the second guitarist, Kaytie the vocalist, and Lawrence the Saxophonist.
As a southern California based band, where do you perform mostly?
Gabe: We’re active between Long Beach and San Diego. This group is a passion project, so we mostly play in jazz clubs around the area. We love playing this music, so anywhere where we get the chance to play.
How long have you been playing together and how did you guys get together?
Gabe: I have been playing with these guys a couple of years. The funny thing is we have interchangeable members and these guys have played in different bands. A majority of us have a church background, we played a lot of gospel music, but all of us came together for our love of anime. Listening to those soundtracks that evoke different emotions—we just love it.
Since we are at Animé LA, which is your favorite anime?
Jay: The movie Paprika is by far my favorite, nothing else even comes close, sorry haters! [Everyone laughs]
Lawrence: I grew up watching Naruto like every child our age did. But I’m also watching My Hero Academia right now and I watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in the past.
Kaytie: I really like Sailor Moon, and that’s it [laughs], just the one.
Donny: I’m a big fan of Demon Slayer. I’m pretty new to anime, but Gabe is getting me up to speed. Also, Death Note and Dragonball.
Gabe: I have a plethora. My favorite movie is Summer Wars, and Redline is really good. Along with manga series Erased and also really like Fullmetal Alchemist. I like psychological stuff, but have an interest in sports anime like Slam Dunk.
Lawrence: There’s also a ping pong one too called Ping Pong. [Everyone laughs]
Your music is very energetic and you had some fans in the audience who were excited about the songs you do. What is your most requested one?
Lawrence: Tank! [from Cowboy Bebop] gets the most requests, it was our first video. We also have two videos on YouTube and a third we’re working on. But people know us from our first video and we do a mashup of various songs then go into Tank!
With your style of jazz and R&B, where does that influence come from? Who has had the most impact on you as a musician?
Hugo: Growing up in church, a lot of gospel and contemporary Christian music influenced me—I love that sound. As I got older, I got into jazz piano and that was a huge thing for me. Also, a lot of American music from the 20th century which influenced Japanese music in their culture and anime. Then in a special Japanese way that got adopted, interpreted, and remade.
Jay: The big person I’m listening to now as second guitarist is Julian Lage, if I could have anyone’s chops right now, it’s his. That’s what I’m working towards now, but pretty far away because that dude is a super monster.
Lawrence: For me, it changes year to year almost. I go through phases like hardcore old school bebop from the 30s and 40s, then I’ll be into modern hip-hop or soul music. For a little while, this guy [points at Jay] got me into Kirk Franklin, big gospel guy.
Andy: It changes but usually revolves around jazz, hip-hop, and soul genres, but I also like super cheesy songwriters like John Mayer.
Kaytie: I really like Britany Spears a lot. [Laughs] That’s my foundation from my formative years for my singing. After that a lot of pop, jazz, and R&B like Alisha Keys, Moonchild, and musical theatre. I think if you took pop, jazz, and musical theatre that’s a pretty obvious foundation for the way I sing.
Hugo: My favorite artists to listen to that had a big impact on my life was Nujabes, a Japanese hip hop producer, in general the feelings I try to get through music come from his influence on me. I also really like listening to hip-hop and jazz.
Donny: What’s been said, but I’d like to add psychedelic rock to the list for me. So bands like Unknown Mortal Orchestra and the drummer, Riley Geare, is doing his own solo project. That stuff just blows my mind. It’s super inspiring, very jazz-infused and likewise with rock and pop, so that a blend of everything that’s been talked about.
Any final words and what do you have up next?
Jay: Check out my band discount art. [Everyone laughs]
Gabe: The funny thing with this group, a lot of the members are in different bands, but it’s the same members. [Laughs] Real talk, we can say that. Anyways, subscribe to us on YouTube, we have some funny rehearsal videos and more coming out.
Thanks to Japanese Lunchtime Rush for answering our questions and be sure to check them out.